Everyone seems to love cookies--they are fun to eat and make; enjoyed by all ages; can be eaten at any time of day; are globally consumed; and are considered by many to be the ultimate comfort food.

A cookie can be defined as a small, sweet, typically thin cake of differing shapes and sizes. They are hand-held, usually flour-based, and the ingredients can differ, depending on region of origin. Cookie types include, but are not restricted to, bars, drop, pressed, refrigerator/icebox, rolled, molded, sandwich, fried and decorated.

All things related to cookies were discussed by Kelly A. DeFusco, senior food technologist, bakery & cereal project leader, for David Michael & Co. Inc., in a presentation titled, “Cookies Around the World,” at Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. According to DeFusco, the key ingredients in cookies are flour, fat and sugar (or a sweetener alternative). Minor ingredients can include flavors (vanilla, almond, etc.), inclusions (nuts, chips, etc.), leavening agents, salt, spices, eggs and cocoa. Sweeteners used can run the gamut, from high fructose corn syrup or sucrose, to rice syrup or molasses.

A brief history of cookies was also presented by DeFusco, who said they actually date back to the 7th century A.D., in Persia (now Iran), where the Persians were some of the first to cultivate sugar cane. By the end of the 14th century, little filled wafers could be found on the streets of Paris. In the 1590s, cookies were even included in one of Elizabethan England’s first recipe books. The inevitable progress of the cookie was traced all the way to 1952 and the invention of the modern-day Oreo.

International terms for cookies include the English and Australian “biscuits;” Spanish galletas; German kleingebäck or plätzchen; Italian amaretti or biscotti; and Belgium/Netherland’s koekje. In Asia, cookies are typically not baked, but are usually deep fried or cooked in heavy cast-iron molds.

There are many flavoring opportunities in cookie formulations, according to DeFusco. “Consumers want fresher, bolder flavors,” she opines, and it is important to have consistency in flavor, even if the ingredients can sometimes be inconsistent. Fat replacement flavors (mimetics); sweet flavors for indulgence-type-reduced-sugar cookies; and masker flavors to overcome some harsh, bitter grain and fortification notes were mentioned.

Past trends in cookie formulations include reduced- or sugar-free; reduced- or fat-free; reduced-carbohydrates; indulgence and moderation; and whole-grain/oats/good-for-you types. As far as the future of cookies, DeFusco named the following trends: fortified and “free” products; nutritional wellness (immunity, digestion, defense, heart health, meal replacement); tropical and Superfruit flavors; decadent flavors with complex tastes; organic; on-the-go packaging; and inventive flavors. pf
-- Barbara T. Nessinger, Associate Editor

For more information:
David Michael & Co. • Philadelphia, Penn.
Kelly A. DeFusco • 215-632-3100, ext. 1547
kdefusco@dmflavors.com • www.dmflavors.com

The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.  Vermont: The Countryman Press, 2004.
Readers Digest. Cookies: 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes from Around the World. New York: Readers Digest Association, 2004.
Stradley, Linda. “History of Cookies,” www.whatscookingamerica.net
Wakefield, Ruth Graves. Toll House Tried and True Recipes. New York: Dover Publications, 1977.